A Rocky Start to 2024
As I’m writing this article in early January, the new year is off to a rocky start. We experienced a big loss with the fire that impacted Zocalo and other businesses in the area. This is a hub of our community and it’s hard to see the damage that was caused. I’m grateful that only the physical building was hurt, and I know that the true heart of this space is the people who created it and gathered in it. The fire hasn’t changed this, and I know our community will make it through this setback more resilient than ever.
The other challenge that has defined the beginning days of this year is encampments. I’ve heard from many of you highlighting the very real and unacceptable risks that encampments create for everyone in our community. This includes those living in encampments, as well as the people and businesses surrounding them.
I hear universal agreement that encampments are not what we want in our community. What we need are durable solutions, including housing, supportive services, and health care options for all Edmontonians. This is something I remain committed to, both with the City’s own resources and through advocacy with the Provincial and Federal governments. In the meantime, the City continues to try to manage the symptoms of the housing and drug poisoning crises as best as possible. This involves a lot of uncomfortable balances as we look to manage the risk to those living in and around encampments.
Recent weeks suggest that we need better checks and balances to manage all risks. We also need action from all levels of government. I’m hopeful that with everyone working together, we’ll be able to provide the safe and supported housing that will make encampments a thing of the past.
Despite the difficult start, I believe 2024 will be a turning point for our ward and our city. We have a choice about how we respond to challenging times, and I know we will collectively choose to turn towards community and strength-based solutions. My confidence in saying this comes from knowing the incredible people like you who make up O-day’min.
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to reach out or say hello in recent months. Please never hesitate to call 311 or connect with my office if we can help. Thank you for reading!